Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On-line learning for special needs students

Growing in number are the students taking on-line courses in junior high, high school, and college.  While on-line classes may be the right method for instruction for some students, such a method of learning may not be the right method for other students.  The debate about on-line learning for students with disabilities is gaining much national attention and is something that must be looked at based on the needs of each individual student, both adolescent and adult.

In recent years, more students who could not attend traditional classes on campus due to limitations in note taking and mobility, have turned to online classes to get their degrees. A blind person, for example, may have to hire a note-taker for an on campus course, but with the option of taking the class on-line, the educational process for such a disabled person would be made easier and more flexible.
Students with LD may benefit from online learning because online learning allows them more freedom to work at their own pace. People with dyslexia, for example, may read slowly but comprehend what they are reading well when they are allowed sufficient time to absorb information. Furthermore, online classes allow students to print out material covered in class or call it back up on the computer if they need to review it multiple times.
There are some success stories about students with autism responding well to on-line instruction in schools across the nation.  The information reflects a higher sense of self-esteem, greater progress in academic courses, an increased sense of satisfaction with academic courses, and even a stronger desire to work on academics more regularly.  Autistic persons, sometimes, struggle with the social component of being in a traditional classroom.  On-line learning relieves that pressure yet allows for interaction with others in the class via a bulletin board or other on-line communication method.
Sometimes the anonymity that accompanies on-line learning is a tremendous benefit for students with disabilities.  They are less self conscious and enjoy a more leveled playing field than they would in a classroom where they had to be physically present.  They can focus on the academic part of their experience without being treated differently because of a disability.

The bottom in line is that education must be accessible to all.  On-line learning is a possible way to remove some barriers for students with disabilities.  I, for one, am truly happy to see such movement in serving the needs of all students, not just those who can make it to the physical classroom.

Jansen, T.  "Do On-line College Classes Benefit Students with Disabilities."  2011
Vien, Courtney. "On-line Education Can Provide Students with Disabilities a Comfortable and Accessible Learning Environment."  2010

No comments:

Post a Comment